As promised, this blog is for book lovers. Today I’m blogging about an essential tool for writers.
Writers have many tools. One of the most important is a handy notebook. A serious writer should never be without her notebook. Its purpose is to note ideas about future projects, creative flashes into the current project(s), useful words and phrases, where to find research materials, insights into characterization, thoughts about significant locations and anything else that adds depth to the work.
We think we may remember a point, however we are likely to forget these creative flashes if they’re not recorded for future reference. It takes disciplined effort to keep a notebook, but it pays off in the end. Keeping my notebook was one of the most difficult habits I had to establish.
People who create know that an instant lasts just an instant, so it is important to note impressionable observations. I have heard of music composers who compose on anything, including napkins when an insight comes during a meal.
Keeping a notebook, also forces us to keep alive descriptions of thoughts and feelings, such as anger, hurt, excitement, sadness and other emotions our characters experience. Reference to these notes deepens the discussion of how characters respond to certain stimuli.
Some writers record electronically. I tried it, but it didn’t work for me. Many of my ideas come to me when I’m walking, however because I must stay alert for obstacles that may cause a fall or for distracted drivers, I can’t use an electronic device safely. I, therefore, continually repeat a phrase or word over-and-over until I return and immediately make a written record. At the beginning of the first three chapters in Secret Lives, the poems that introduced each character were composed during my morning walks and recorded immediately.
A writer may have just the scintilla of an idea for a future project, but if it is not noted, any future value it has will be lost. I won’t stake my life on it; however I’m sure most authors keep notebooks.